Author: Liz Carlyle
Genre: Historical Romance
My Copy: ARC via Avon
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose daring exploits are only whispered about. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap, then stalks out, references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is burning.
Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty—but the latter is no use to a servant. Her circumstances are desperate, and with Hepplewood's words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . . her body.
But when fate sends Isabella back into Hepplewood's arms, the earl must make an impossible choice—draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.
I’ve been a Liz Carlyle fan for a few years and she’s an auto-buy for me, but admit I haven’t really kept up with her like I should. When the opportunity came to participate in the blog tour for The Earl’s Mistress I couldn’t pass up the chance.
We have good character development. Our heroine, Isabella Aldridge is trying to make ends meet and raise two girls. Her beauty makes it difficult to obtain a governess position but she’s not afraid to work hard. I had a bit of trouble warming up to Isabella because she tries to make a stand and then just goes with the flow. I wanted her to have a little more backbone. Our hero is Anthony, the Earl of Hepplewood and quite frankly I giggled every time I saw his title. It’s just a bit ah, silly sounding. I liked Anthony and could easily see he was tortured by some secret. I love tortured heroes and Anthony’s no exception. I really liked how much Anthony loved his daughter. We have a few secondary characters that are important including Anthony’s cousin Anne. We also have a villain (of course there has to be) and it’s Isabella’s cousin, Baron Tafford. I wish we had more scenes with him other than a couple because I wanted a reason to dislike him other than what we’re told.
I debated with the rating heavily and even at one point contemplated giving it a two, but it’s a typical Carlyle book with regards to the writing and the characters. My main issue isn’t Isabella’s reluctance at being at mistress, but rather her uncertainty in wanting to participate in a little BDSM. There’s a big difference in this book and Tempted All Night where the heroine admitted to the hero she likes to be restrained and therefore she believes liking restraint makes her wicked. In Tempted, the hero assures it’s okay and there’s a hilarious scene involving a pair of cuffs and the possibility of the servants discovering their secret. I’m okay with such scenes, but in The Earl’s Mistress, it felt forced. At no point do I see Isabella actually enjoying being hit with a riding crop nor do I see her warming up to the possibility of BDSM. On top of that Isabella makes it known to Anthony that she had no discipline growing up and he informs her he knows why she’ll be into his lifestyle. Excuse me? No. Just no. I wanted Anthony to be okay with Isabella being happy with vanilla sex, but because she’s in love with him, it makes it okay to do things he wants even if she’s not comfortable.
Carlyle has written about dark subjects but has always danced around the issue. We’re left to fill in the blanks and in the past I’ve never had a problem with that. With regards to the plot, it’s typical Carlyle. I’m okay with her giving us characters who do bad things because in real life bad things happen. I have no problem with the villain and what he does because we’re reminded that a lot of what happens today also happened back then. No, the real issue I have is Carlyle making Isabella’s reluctance okay.
I love Carlyle because she gives us flawed characters who aren’t afraid to own up to their mistakes. Unfortunately, The Earl’s Mistress just didn’t sit well with me. I loved the opening chapters and the tête-à-tête between Isabella and Anthony in those opening chapters. And even when Anthony revealed his dark secret, I was secretly hoping the reason he was into BDSM was because he had to punish himself for that secret. I kept hoping and hoping that it would be okay. I guess it isn’t fair to rate The Earl’s Mistress as okay based on the sexual lifestyle preference of the hero and heroine. I just felt, that this particular couple, wasn’t completely into it and Carlyle somehow jumped shipped and went with a trend. In all honestly, I really liked the scenes where sex and sexual preferences weren’t the issue.
If you’re a fan of Liz Carlyle, I recommend reading a few reviews before making a decision. Otherwise, fans of historical romance, borrow a copy. While The Earl’s Mistress was an okay read, I’m still looking forward to reading what Carlyle publishes next.
(click on the banner for the full tour scheduled organized by Tasty Book Tours)